Philip Freeman.

The principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) online

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the people are sacrificers too iu their manner ; for besides that, by say-
ing Amen, they join m the act of him that ministers, and make it also
to be their own; so, &c .... while in theii- sacrifice of obedience and
thanksgiving they present themselves to God with Christ, whom they
have spiritually received ; that is, themselves with that which will make
them gracious and acceiitable." So Dean Jackson speaks of Eucharistic
participation as being a consecration of Christians to a priesthood pa-
rallel to that of Aaron : " Whoso eateth shall live for ever ; for he tliat
truly eateth is consecrated by it to be a king and priest for ever unto
God the Father." (Works, vol. viii. p. 378.) See further, note G,



" To whom coming, as unto a living stone, ye also, as lively stones,
arc buHt up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spii-itual
saciifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. By Him therefore let us
offer the sacritice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our
lips giving thanks to His Name." ■ • ■

TuE views stated in the preceding section, besides
their bearing upon our present subject, furnish an
answer to several inquiries which can hardly fail to
force themselves upon thoughtful minds in reference
to the holy Sacraments. Such, for instance, as the
question how there should be ui both Sacraments
an entire union to Christ, and yet the effects of the
two Sacraments be different. For it might well seem,
on a first view, that entire union to the same Person
would always produce the same effects. And again,
as to the real nature of the difference between the two
Sacraments, and of the great pre-eminence, in point
of awfulness and mysteriousness, universally accorded
from the earliest times to the second Sacrament. It
appears, from what has been said, that the difference
is partly one of dojjree only, but that there is also a
most important difference in hind. The Eucharist,
under one point of view, and that its simpler and less
transcendent one, is the making good and carrying
on, by fresh supplies of the same kind of grace, of the
renewal imparted in Baptism. Such is the account
Ilooker gives of the relation of the Sacraments to
each other : —

"The grace wliieh wo have l)y the holy I'liuliariKt doth not
begin but continue life. . . . Life being therefore propo.scd unto

N 2


all men as their end, they which by Baptism have laid the foun-
dation and attained the first beginning of a new life, have here
their nourishment and food prescribed for continuance of life in
them \"

Now even under this aspect the Eucharist may, in
a certain sense, be said to transcend Baptism ; so im-
mense is the spiritual advancement which it is capable
of imparting. So much so, indeed, that the analogy
of food can hardly be said to represent the fact ade-
quately. Food is by no means such a pLnary gift to
the body as the Eucharist is to the spiritual being.
Perhaps the nearest analogy which the natural life
presents is that oi groiotli, more especially that degree
of it which transforms infancy into manhood. This
is so real a multiplication, so immense an exaltation,
in all its parts and powers, of the infantile life as at
first imparted, as not altogether inadequately to typify
the vast accessions to the first-imparted baptismal
life, which the Eucharist is capable of bestowing.
And this analogy, too, no less than that of food, is
fully sanctioned both in the Old and New Testa-
ment; Christ being so constantly represented as the
" Growth" (i.e. means of growth) of His people ^.
But still it must be admitted that it is only in a sense
that the Eucharist, considered merely as a means of
the continuance and growth of the spiritual life, can
be said to be a greater gift than Baptism. After all,
the great law of being must hold, that " the life
is more than the meat." As the crowning marvel of
creative power and love is the imparting to inert
matter the mysterious principle of life, and of intel-

" Hooker, Eccl. Pol., V. Ixvii. 1.

« Zeeh. iii. 8, vi. 12 ; Is. iv. 5 ; Jer. xxiii. 5 ; Eph. ii. 21, iv. IG;
Col. ii. 19.


lectiial and spiritual existence ; insomuch that the
subsequent maintenance and advancement of these
powers is as nothing in comparison, (it is our blessed
Lord's own estimate •' :) so, however great, in potency
of virtue and fulness of measure, the spiritual susten-
ance and growth imparted by the Eucharist, it can
never, considered as sustenance, really transcend in
marvellousness the mysterious quickening bestowed by
the spiritual new birth. At the utmost, there results
a co-equality in point of power and mysteriousness
between the two Sacraments, viewed as instruments
of spiritual life and growth merely ; for if one of them
is greater in one point of view, the other is so in
another. Great is Baptism, inconceivably great ; for
it is " a new creation :" and great too, inconceivably
great, is tlie Eucharist also ; for it draws out that,
which in Baptism is once for all created, into infinity
of increase, and eternity of duration. In a word, so
long as we consider the Sacraments as operating in
jjcirl materia and ex loco (cquali, — in the same sphere,
and as it were on the same level, — as only different
degrees or manifestations of the same kind of thln(/,
viz. renewal, — we have no faculties for pronouncing
whether of the two is the greater and the more
mysterious. Whether the spiritual new birth at the
first, or the eternal growth of the new being after-
wards, is the more marvellous and excellent, who
can with any confidence pronounce? Both are great
deeps ; whether of the two is the deeper, our line
is too short to fathom.

AVhence then that peculiar character of jjrofoundcst
and most reverential awe, with which the Church"

" Si. Malt. vi. 25.

' Compare the greater awfidneas of St. raul's language in llcb. x.


f 1 0111 the earliest ages lias invested the mystery of the
Holy Eucharist ? Or whence, — if participation in
order to growtli is, as so many suppose, the whole
jiurport of the Eucharistic act, — whence the very large
})roportion in which all ancient Eucharistic Otiices
are directed to those other great topics of Oblation or
Dedication, and Pleading? The view which repre-
sents the Eucharist as merely a means of making
accessions, by way of grow^th, to the baptismal estate
of grace, yields no account whatever of these great
features in the ancient idea of the Eucharist. And
yet some gromids there must be for this comparative
estimate of the two Sacraments, which accords to the
second a vast and unqualified pre-eminence over the
first, both in point of solemnity, and also as an occa-
sion for the discharge of certain spiritual functions of
a Christian !

For though Baptism was held of old, as was fit-
ting, in exceeding reverence ; though it rightly enjoyed
the lofty titles '■* of " New Creation," the " Anointing,"
the " Gift^" " Illumination," " Consecration," and the
like, yet the language applied to it is still as nothing,
compared with what is said of the Eucharist. This
is spoken of in very early days, as " the awful, the
tremendous, the unspeakable mysteries," ''the hal-
lowed, celestial, inefi'able, stainless, terrible, tremen-
dous, divine gifts ^" The Eucharistic Presence of
Christ, throughout the ancient Liturgies, or Com-
munion Offices, is ever represented as something far

29, than in Heb. vi, 1 ; in which passages he seems to speak of pro-
faning the two Sacraments respectively. See Note G.

' Vide Bingham, Eccl. Antiq., XI. 1. 1—10. p. 399—411.

'' Ibid., p. 412.

"- Lit. St. James, (circ. a.d. 200, at latest). Neale, Gen. Introd.,
vol. ii. p. 611.


more awful and intimate than His Baptismal Pre-
sence; and warnings of pro})ortionate solemnity have
in all ages, after the example set by St. Paul'', been
used to deter men from partaking it miworthily. And
this is of itself a remarkable circumstance, that those
who have received the gift of new birth and spiritual
life should be so solemnly warned of the danger of
partaking, without certain special, and in a manner
new, qualifications, of the means of sustaining that
life. The qualifications for Baptism have ever been
"repentance and faith." This faith is directed, (1)
towards " all the articles" of the Creed ; and (2) to-
wards " the promises of God made in that Sacra-
ment," viz. that it shall be effectual to " death unto
sin and new birth unto righteousness," through the
virtue of Christ's Death and Resurrection". The
requirements of our Church for Communion (justly
representing, I conceive, the mind of the Church
from the beginning) are still, as in Baptism, repent-
ance and faith. But this faith is now specially di-
rected towards right conceptions and due thankful re-
membrance of (1) the ''Sacrifice of the Death of Christ,"
as such, and (2) of " the benefits which we receive
thereby ;" not towards His Death and Resurrection as
re-creative and regenerative mysteries. All this surely
bespeaks some further mystery as involved in the
Eucharist, beyond the character which it possesses as
a direct continuation and advancement, on the same
level, of the baptismal gift of life. And the fact which
it points to is doubtless that the Eucharist makes

* See above, note ]i. 181.

''■ Sec tli(! cud of )li(! Iiii])lisi)ial Oiricc ; "That ns ITc tlird niul rose
again, so should \vc who arc baplizcd dif from siii and rise again \inli>
righteousness," &c. Compare Romans vi. 3 — G.


us partakers more intimately, more directly, com-
pletely, and peculiarly, of an aspect of our Lord's
actions into which Baptism but very partially and im-
perfectly admitted us. The Eucharist, over and above
its powers for the maintenance of the baptismal life,
admits us to a position and to functions awfully and
mysteriously related to the most awful and mysterious
of the characters and functions of Christ. Hence, then,
the surpassing solemnity of the action, and hence
the duties peculiarly assigned to it in the Eucharis-
tic Offices. If Baptism possesses, as it does, " the
shadow" of Christ's Priesthood, the Eucharist has
" the very image" of it. If Baptism makes us in
power, and de jure, "priests unto God," the Eucharist
constitutes and exhibits us as such de facto, and in
action. If Baptism makes us to be the spiritual
Israel, God's children and sons, supernaturally ga-
thered into One Body, and sustained by various lower
effluxes of the priestly and sacrificial work of the
Aaron of the heavenly sanctuary ; the Eucharist intro-
duces us to the inner privileges of priestly action and
participation, the antitypes in some sort of those
by which Aaron's seed was brought into a peculiar
nearness to God, and partook of that bread of pre-
sence, and of those more eminent sacrifices, which
were withheld from the rest. So much more intimate
is the Eucharistic than the baptismal Presence, Eucha-
ri.stic than baptismal Participation, of Christ; even
as the Israelitish priests stood in a more awful near-
ness to the presence of God than the people, and as
eating, e.g., of the sin-ofFerings was a more solemn
and privileged act than eating of the ordinary peace-

' These illustrations cannot, perhaps, be pressed very closely in


These considerations soera, further, to throw some
light on a point of mucli interest ; the existence,
namely, of Infant Communion in certain early ages of
the Church, and its abeyance since throughout West-
ern Christendom, That it was the primitive custom
to give the Holy Communion to infants has been
affirmed, but is absolutely devoid of proof; and there
is a very strong presumption against it. Early
vouchers for it are Tertullian and St. Cyprian ; and
it prevailed till perhaps the middle ages in the West,
and is continued at this day in the Eastern Church.
And were participation in certain consecrated things
by a fit (or not unfit) recipient the whole matter, the
analogy of Baptism would all but enforce the practice
in question. But it is not so. To the full and proper
Eucharistic act, a conscious act of oblation and pre-
sentation is indispensable. Now this cannot be dis-
charged by unconscious, nor even by young, children.
While, therefore, there is not a little to be said, at
first sight, in favour of giving the Eucharist to infants,
as being the Sacrament of growth, and the carrying
on of the life imparted in Baptism, — we see that the
practice is in some sort a putting asunder of things
which Christ has joined together in His ordinance, by
bringing those to it who can join but in a part of it,
viz. the receptive ; the very converse error to that
by which the later Western Church has systematized
non-comiiivntcnthfi attendance on the Eucharistic oflcr-
ing. On this ground we may not only, I conceive,
acquiesce in the disuse of Infant Communion, but also
most seriously question its having been apostolic or
primitive. The early zeal for the Floly Eucharist will

alJ particulars; but they may serve to give an idia of wlial is iiieaiil.
Vide Lcvit. vi. 26.


abundantly account for a well-intended deviation from
primitive order in this matter, even as soon as the
days of Tertiillian.

But let us now proceed to inquire what light we
derive, from the considerations here set forth, upon
the question before us, as to the true theory of
the Church's ordinary worship contained in her Daily

Now in the first place, our observing that the Holy
Eucharist, if we include all aspects of it, is of so
sublime and transcendent a character, makes it rea-
sonable or likely that there would be provided within
the Church lower and simpler means of Divine wor-
ship and intercommunion. In proportion as the
Eucharist is excellent and awful, admitting man to
the very inner mysteries of his Christian estate, and
so calls for the most intense concentration of his
entire powers upon the discharge of his part in it ; in
that proportion is it unfitted to be the ordinary and
continually applied, still less the exclusive instrument
of spiritual intercourse between God and man.

This view, or so much of it as denies the every-day
character of the Eucharist, will doubtless be exceed-
ingly unacceptable to many persons in the present
day. It is probably a growing opinion among mem-
bers of the English Church, and those not the least
learned or entitled to carry least weight in such a
matter, that daily Communion, where it can be had,
is the proper instrument of Christian perfection. The
intended and normal condition of the Church is, they
conceive, that there should be everywhere a daily
Eucharist, and that all faithful persons should be daily
communicants ; or at any rate as many persons as
possible. But, while I yield to none either in a deep


sense of the lamentable infrequeney of that celebra-
tion among ns, or in the earnest desire that it
might be, according to apostolic practice, weekly, at
least, everywhere, — more constant or even daily, at
some special seasons : I would at the same time no
less earnestly protest against a view which has no
standing-ground in apostolic or primitive usage ; and
the attempt to carry out which can, as experience has
shewn, only end in the depravation of the holy rite it
is designed to exalt. Let us by all means do honour
to God in all ways of His appointing ; but let us
not think to do so by straining His sacred ordinances
to other purposes than those which they were designed
to answer. Let us accept with teachableness the les-
sons on this point which are written for us, alike in
the scriptural and apostolic, as in the post-apostolic,
history of the Ciiurch.

Now looking to those lessons, and that history,
I venture to affirm, 1st, that the Holy Eucharist is in
its inoper nature a festival thing ; by which I mean
a high, occasional, and solemn one, not every-day or
common ; and 2ndly, that in the very earliest, and
surely the wisest and holiest age, celebration, though
never less than weekly, was rarely more frequent than
that ; never, that we know of for certain, (though at
liigh seasons it may possibly have been so,) daily ; —
aiui that in these considerations, not in any // priori.
iiraumcnts as to the excellence of the rite, is to bo
laid the basis of a right estimate as to the frecjucncy
of celebration which is either to be expected or desired.
Sunday and festival celebration, in a word, — a desig-
nation which leaves am|)le verge for diversity within
certain intelligible limits, — may safely be ailirmed to
be, as a general rule, the prescript for the Church, and


to exhibit with the greatest fidelity the true character
and purpose of the Holy Eucharist. That the clergy
may have occasion to celebrate much more frequently
than this, publicly or privately, as a part of their
ministrations to the people, is of course undeniable.
And that this measm-e may be in different degrees ex-
ceeded by clergy and laity alike, even to the degree
of daily celebration at particular times, is conceded
also. But that whensoever and wheresoever this is
the case, it is the bringing in a Festival, i. e. a high
and solemn idea and character, into the common and
average tenor of the life of Christians, — that it is the
elevation of the Christian life into an uncommon con-
dition of privilege, and one not designed for them as
a general rule, — this I would affirm no less.

Such a view, I venture to assert, not merely the
nature of the thing, but the practice of the Church in
the earliest and purest ages, her sad experience in all
later and less clearly-sighted ones, and certain of her
disciplinary rules at all times, entirely fall in with. It
is indeed commonly and inconsiderately said, and the
saying passes from mouth to mouth without inquiry,
that the first Christians communicated every day.
Thus Jeremy Taylor frequently assumes this to have
been the practice. (See, e. g., Worthy Communicant,
p. G21.) So others: —

(Sparrow, Rat., p. 221): "la the primitive Church, while
Christians continued in the strength of faith and devotion, they
did communicate every day. This custom continued in Africa
till St. Cyprian's time, &ic. But afterwards the custom grew
faint, and some upon one pretence, some upon another, would
communicate once a-week." And Wheatly, chap. vi. sect. i. :
" We find the Eucharist was always in the purest ages of the
Church, a daily part of the Common Prayer."

The truth is, that there is not a shadow of evidence


that in apostolic times, at least after the very tirst
Pentecostal inauguration of the Church, if even then,
there was daily celebration of the Eucharist. The
evidence is, on the contrary, entirely the other way.
That there may have been immediately after the Day
of Pentecost, such daily celebration, the well-known
passage in Acts ii. 42, 46, no doubt affords a strong
])resumption. But even this must be allowed to be
capable of another interpretation. All that is cer-
iainly affirmed by it is, that besides their daily attend-
ance at the temple, the faithful did also at a house or
houses, in contradistinction to the temple, (most pro-
bably in the upper chamber of the holy Institution,)
" break bread." AVhether the Ka& ^]\xipav, " daily,"
applies to the Eucharistic celebration as well as to
the temple services, is a question for criticism, which
I apprehend there is nothing in the passage to de-
cide for us either way. On the whole, I conceive the
improbability of new converts being thus admitted to
a daily Eucharist to be very strong indeed. It is
certainly at variance with all else that we subse-
quently gather on the subject. The manner in which
the first day of the week stands out, from the Acts
(ch. ii. 1.) to the Revelation, (i. 10,) cspeciully for
I'^ucharistic assemblies, (Acts xx. 7 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 2.)
must be admitted. And though an ingenious and
devout writer endeavours to shew that the celebration
at Troas was twofold, one before, and one after,
St. Paul's preaching " ; the more probable opinion
certainly is that which an ordinary reader derives
from the passage. External evidence towards the
close of the apostolic times comes in to i)rove coii-

1 Bp. Jolly, on tlic Eudiariht, p. 100. Fk-iiiy (Ma-iiis dc Clucticii.s,
iii. 14,) takes the ordinary view.

190 Tin: riiiNcirLKs or dtvink sf.rvick. [chap. ii.

flusivcly that then, at least, weekly Eucharist was the
ordinary rule''. The well-known letter of Pliny, mani-
festly describing the Eiicharistic practice of Chris-
tians, from the mouth of one of them, represents it as
confined to a certain day, — no doubt the Sunday.
Justin Martyr's testimony (a.d. 150) probably recog-
nises occasional celebrations on other days, but most
distinctly gives Sunday as the rule. Tertullian (at the
end of the second century) speaks of celebration twice
a-weeJc, besides, and on festivals. But St. Cyprian,
250 B.C., is the first who alludes to it as taking place
daily. Thenceforward there is occasional mention of
it as such, but nothing approaching to a proof that it
was of universal prevalence ; indeed, there is abundant
proof that it was not. And the inference is irre-
sistible, that if apostolic and post-apostohc Christians
maintained the life of faith with far less than a daily
Eucharist, it follows, 1st, that that rite in its primary
intention, was, as has been said, a Festival, i. e. a high
and solemn, not ordinary and every-day, thing ; and
2nd, that, with this apostolic example before our eyes,
it is at least a question (surely one which all but de-
mands an affirmative) whether great moderation in mul-
tiplying of Eucharistic celebrations be not the part of

'■ Vide Bingliam, XIII ix. 1, vol. iv. p. 353, (and Cotelerius, ibid.);
also XV, ix. 2, p. 358 ; where the question of ancient frequency of cele-
bration is fully discussed. The following are some of his conclusions :
— " This frequency of Communion may reasonably be supposed to be,
then, according to the known practice, once a-week, on every Lord's
day. Roman Catholic writers, though somewhat concerned to prove
ancient daily celebration, admit the same. So Cotelerius, as above.
So Fleury (Moeurs des Chretiens, iii. 39) : " On offrait le sacrifice tous
Ics Dimanches, et encore deux fois de la seraaine ;" speaking of the
times of the first Christian Emperors. Again, i. 14, speaking of the
primitive ages : " Chaque Eghse particuliere s' assemblait le Dimanche.
.... On s' assemblait aussi le Vendredi ;" alluding perhaps to Tertul-
lian's stationary days. So too Krazer, d« Liturg.


Christian wisdom, not to say of apostolic conformity.
Such, at any rate, seems to have been the view se-
riously entertained and acted upon in many parts of
the ancient Church. The Church at laro:e was slow
to admit any innovation in the apostolic usage. This
appears from an expression in the very ancient Eucha-
ristic Office of the Alexandrian Church, the Liturgy of
St. Mark intimating that celebration was confined to
Sundays or Festivals. The first prayer in it (which I
have elsevi'here ' given reasons for considering to be of
primitive antiquity) contains the words, " And, we
pray Thee, grant us to spend this holy day" &c.
And in full accordance with this, again, we find, as nn
historical fact, that even in the ancient monasteries of
Egypt "it was peculiar to Sundays and Festivals;"
that, in addition to the daily Offices, " they met at
the third hour for the celebration of the sacred i\rys-
teries""." And, indeed, throughout the Church of
Alexandria, so late as the end of the fourth century,
the Eucharist was only celebrated on Saturdays and
Sundays, both these days being reckoned as Festivals.
For among the canons preserved by Timothy, bishop
of Alexandria, (a. d. 380,) we find a restrictive in-
junction laid upon married persons, applying to those
two days, based upon the ground " that upon them
the spiritual Sacrifice is ofiercd to the Lord '." The
Armenian Church, again, an offshoot of that of Cio-
sarea in Cappadocia, founded by St. Gregoiy tiic Illu-

Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 33)